[Echo Chamber (′ek·ō ′chām·bər): noun, 1. a dedicated space for the purposes of transmission and repetition of sound 2. a video segment that features your favorite bands playing your favorite songs 3. a video segment where your favorite bands blow your mind].
Words by Jim
Band / Big Hurry
Songs / “Little Something” & “Save Your Breath”
Location / Union Project: 801 N. Negley Ave.
Time / Sunday February 13
I don’t know how this keeps happening. Every Echo Chamber we do, it’s a holiday or the day before. This one happened to be the night before Valentine’s Day (you can argue on the validity of this holiday amongst yourselves). We set up the shoot at the Union Project, a non-profit community resource center in the heart of East Liberty. I picked up Justin, impressing him with my scary punctuality. He made me a cup of espresso for being such a pal. After loading up his gear and a few quick blocks northeast we were there. The Union Project immediately greeted us with a parking lot full of cars, with Todd and Randy standing outside. Kelly let us in the side door and told us we could drop our things in the back Atrium. Food and drinks lined the temporary tables. Lenny and Dani brought drums and guitars in. Andy appeared out of thin air. The Great Hall (as impressive as it sounds) was filled with a large group of people gathered to worship and celebrate. We made sure not to interrupt. Still not positive where we were shooting, we toured the Atrium (larger nondescript room with a nice balcony), the Basement Studio (filled with pottery and catacombs), and the Old Cafe (which Todd liked the most). We climbed through a hole in the ceiling to investigate the choir loft. Too narrow. Too dirty. Scary.
The gathering in the Great Hall was already running late and so were we. We rearranged the Old Cafe, setting up Big Hurry under some beautiful stained glass windows. Large pillars cut the room in thirds. Blake and I hauled tables away, while Justin commandeered a corner. Randy, our lighting expert, set up lights inside, outside, on the ceiling, and on the floor. The band cracked a few beers and moved from nervous to comfortable. I realized I left a wireless microphone at my apartment. Shit. Damnit. I ran home and sped back just as the band was warming up. Emily arrived with brownies for everyone. Blake and I arranged white painted tree branches for decor. Did it look cool? Sure. A clamped light fell from wall right before our first take and broke, narrowly missing Andy’s noggin. Finally happy with the atmosphere, lighting, and sound, the band began with “Little Something”, an unreleased song filled with hand claps. Everyone was smiling.
The chomp of pretzels could be heard in between takes. Justin had a whole coffee mug filled with them. Empty beer bottles were being stashed away out of sight of the cameras. Emily shared her Tom Kha soup with Justin and even saved me a spring roll. Blake was given duty of clapping before each take, yelling “Set” as he took his seat out of sight. I sat taking notes, enjoying the stripped down arrangements of Big Hurry. We challenged them to explore outside their jagged electric indie rock lines and this is what they gave us – I couldn’t have been happier. I’d never heard the band so calm, yet so clear. True talent. They breezed through their second song after a few takes, breaking into chatter and jokes with every stop in shooting. Todd wandered The Great Hall collecting B roll footage. At some point, Randy’s outside spotlight blew over and broke. Our second casualty. No worries, we could do without it. After a quick breather to drop footage onto computers, we broke into our final song of the evening.
“Save Your Breath” was an oldie, but a goodie. A live staple, the band took the time to deconstruct it and put it back together again. Lenny played through his bass cabinet, secretly hidden from view. Dani Buncher’s percussion was unreal, artfully turning an old beat up guitar into a million different sounds. A guitar pick slid down the fret board. A paint stirrer screwed in place for a snare snap. Brilliant. Wilkosz casually held the slowed-down song together as Kelly’s un-amplified voice washed over us. It was beautiful and inspring to say the least, especially if you’re familiar with the studio take. Todd moved like the wind as he circled the band. Randy was posted up behind a barista’s counter with a telephoto lens like a snake in the grass. This one was going to turn out great.
We were easily pushing 11 pm and the crew and band were tired and hungry. The room was getting cold. Lights were falling down. The pretels and brownies were gone and we all had to work in the morning. With one final take, we called it quits, rubbed our eyes, and stretched. Blake and I accessed our photographic memories to put the room back together. Drums that were once guitars turned back into guitars again. I won’t lie, this was a long shoot, but that’s what happens when we work with a band that strives for perfection. They worked hard to give us original arrangements and we could only return the favor by giving them the best shoot we could. It turned out just fine. With hugs and smiles we loaded equipment into cars, spreading out across the city. The night was warm and breezy as I drove Justin home, humming Big Hurry tunes the whole way.
Many thanks to The Union Project for letting us celebrate our love of music in their home. It’s a beautiful space that’s always doing beautiful things for the community. Check out their website for more information and donate to their cause.